Curated content can boost the effectiveness of digital learners by guiding them to high-quality resources. After all, even the most skilled self-directed learners are unlikely to find only the best content to help them meet the company’s goals and priorities. Follow these suggestions to curate content for digital learners that is relevant and effective.
Choose topics wisely
Drowning learners in curated content that touches on every possible subject of interest will be unproductive; they’ll tune it out.
Some eLearning materials will have to remain proprietary; this content is best created in-house. It’s possible that additional resources can be curated and appended to eLearning, though. It can be offered as microlearning or performance support or provided as supplementary materials to attendees in a virtual classroom. Though a variety of views can be beneficial, avoid curating content that competes or clashes with essential material covered in the training and support materials the L&D team creates in house.
Some topics are broadly covered from every possible angle online and learners will easily be able to find appropriate content. There’s no need, for example, to insist that everyone watch the same video on how to replace toner in the copier or use the same approach when learning the basics of how to enter a formula in Excel. As long as an employee can do these tasks when required to, how she learned is not important.
On the other hand, if manager trainees are learning coaching and feedback skills, it might be wise to curate content that emphasizes values that matter in your company. The internet is full of advice—some good, some terrible, much mediocre—and varied approaches. If consistency, diversity, sensitivity, or other values are important for your managers, choose content that encourages the new manager trainees to show these traits. If your manager training teaches a particular approach to providing feedback or annual reviews, the curated content could include links to tools and tips that facilitate these methods.
Work toward specific goals
Curation won’t cover all training and performance needs. To effectively curate content for digital learners, think about specific audiences and use cases. Are you curating content for field technicians? Sales personnel? New managers? New hires?
Identify and refine a goal for the content and targeted learners: Is the curated content supposed to teach them about the company or about specific products? These learners might be better served by content developed in-house. Instead of trying to teach sales personnel about your company’s products, a better use for curation might be periodic articles informing them about competitors’ products. If the curator can add tips or suggestions for differentiating the company’s products, the curated content becomes useful microlearning that can boost the performance of those salespeople.
Executives and middle managers might benefit from curated content that follows news and trends in the industry or that keeps abreast of what industry leaders are writing and saying. Curation will steer them to the most important information and save them time.
Whether your learners have just completed focused training on new skills or are subject to annual refresher training to meet certification requirements and keep up with legal and industry regulations, curation can help. Periodic, carefully chosen content pushed to all employees in a learning cohort or who share job requirements can help them keep their skills and knowledge current. Adding a question that prompts reflection and offering a way for employees to react and discuss the content extends learning and can foster collaboration among employees.
Know what to automate
The most effective curated content blends automated and handpicked content. The curator might use tools like Feedly to follow industry leaders, key companies, and blogs, and other sources of relevant information. She might then select specific content items, package them using a chatbot, Pinterest, Slack, an email tool, or some other format, and then deliver the targeted content to the appropriate groups of learners. In this way, an engaged curator adds considerable value. Tools like Feedly aggregate a lot of content. The goal is to identify the best and most relevant content, not to deluge learners with information overload.
The advantage of using platforms like Slack or Pinterest to share curated content is that they encourage engagement with other members of the group. The curator can even encourage those self-directed employees to share their own content finds, though it might be necessary to vet and filter that content.
Understand the digital learner’s mindset
Self-directed learning is not the only hallmark of the modern learner. Digital learners bring different expectations, different behaviors, and different motivations to eLearning than did employees of only a few years ago. Understanding what corporate digital learning is and who digital learners are is essential to selecting the best approach to content curation. The eLearning Guild is hosting a two-day Digital Learning Summit on May 16 and 17, 2018, for L&D professionals who want to study the emerging digital learning paradigm—and help shape its future. Putting the suggestions offered here together with a solid understanding of today’s learners is the best way to effectively curate content for digital learners.